We did make it out of town through a window in the weather. We left early (at my urging) on Tuesday Dec. 23rd. Drove on packed snow on the windy road down our hill to access a state highway south to Interstate 5. From Portland to Salem took 2 hours; normally it's about a 45 min drive. It was white-knuckles the whole way to Salem on solid ice, broken and rutted. We have the 'studless' snow tires and didn't put on chains. The Fear was that traffic, which was extremely heavy, would come to a complete stop on an incline and we might not be able to get moving again. To our good fortune though, south of Salem the ice turned to slush turned to wet pavement and even became dry. Our speed returned to normal highway speed and the climb over Siskiyou Pass was uneventful. It would have been unbearable to be in icy conditions all the way to California when the elevation would drop.
Turns out we left at just the right time. Had we delayed any longer we'd have been caught stuck for several hours on the stretch of highway and I-5 that the Dept of Transportation closed to scrape the surface clean.
After Christmas at my parents' we drove to San Francisco to stay in the heart of Chinatown. Monday morning we went to a dim sum restaurant, the kind where they push around the carts. We'd had a successful experience the day before at a little dim sum stand, so I thought the boys would enjoy this. However Scott's food sat nearly untouched on his plate.
It had been cold, and both boys were wearing their new hats. Scott's was a beenie he had pulled down on his head nearly to his eyebrows. Just below the margin of royal blue was the edge of his bangs that had also been pressed down. So he was looking up at me from below the hair and hat rim, and the blue made his eyes look very vivid. Of course, at seven, he has that beautiful nearly waxen skin and he looked particularly luminous that morning in the bustling restaurant. As I ate he began asking questions, looking deeply into my eyes as I answered. At one point I caught my breath as I marveled that this beautiful child was mine.
"You'll always be my mother." Part statement, part question. It was clear he needed a response, a corroboration. He does this quite a lot ("Mom, a cat is a mammal", "Yes, Scott, a cat is a mammal." Sometimes it drives me nuts.) So I said, "Yes, Scott, I'll always be your mother." He kind of nodded to himself as if this confirmed a hypothesis.
"And you'll always be my mother, even if you die."
"Yes, even if I die, I'll always be your mother." This time a little smile with the nod as if he was not only affirmed, but also reassured. His face was so open, so innocent and earnest that I nearly started crying there in the restaurant. It makes me tear up even as I write.
Boy they slay me sometimes. I think I'm walking along with the same-old usual, and then I fall right into a hole I hadn't seen.